Nightcap upbeat despite Covid hit
Shares in Nightcap sparked on Monday after the bar operator struck an upbeat note despite the Christmas trading period being heavily disrupted by the pandemic.
The AIM-listed company said net sales in the 26 weeks to 26 December were £15.5m, up 46.2% or by 22.4% on a like-for-like basis on 2019.
Stripping out the period after Plan B restrictions were introduced, group net sales rose 28.3% on a like-for-like basis in the 24 weeks to 12 December.
More than 7,500 bookings were cancelled after the Omicron variant started to surge. But Nightcap said more than 70% of these had been rescheduled for between January and March 2022.
Sarah Willingham, chief executive, said the sales growth seen in the first half represented "a monumental effort under any circumstances, not least during a time when new Covid-19 guidelines negatively affected the important Christmas trading period".
"With the first new Adventure Bar Group site lease signed and a further 25 sites under offer or in legal negotiations, we are well positioned for significant expansion as we enter 2022, with sufficient cash reserves of approximately £9.4m for the group’s operations and to execute our growth strategy," she said.
As at 1000 GMT, shares in Nightcap were ahead 7% at 20.85p.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "The business was hit hard by Christmas parties being pulled at the eleventh hour, yet it remains upbeat that more than two thirds of these bookings will be honoured in the coming months.
"Nightcap will be hoping that Omicron cases have peaked in the UK, and the country returns to a sense of normality soon. Greater movement of people across the UK and a willingness to go to more crowded places should in theory raise the chances of people wanting to grab food on the go as well has have some nights out with friends and family."
Nightcap acquired London Cocktail Club in December 2020 ahead of its initial public offering. It bought the Adventure Bar Group last May in a deal worth up to £2.5m.